San Jose redevelopment officials thought they had found the
perfect location for a new parking garage downtown. But maybe they
should have looked a little closer.
Apparently nobody at the redevelopment agency noticed that the
property they hoped to acquire at 99 Notre Dame Ave. was at the time
being remodeled for a new tenant, Santa Clara County Superior
And now it's becoming evident that the court -- which paid for
remodeling an existing, 14,000-square-foot building and took
possession in January -- could be sent packing.
``We are looking in downtown to see if any other location can be
found,'' said Abi Maghamfar, the San Jose Redevelopment Agency's
parking program specialist. If the court gets the boot, Maghamfar
said, it would come at the direction of the city council, and only
as a last resort.
The agency would have to pay for the relocation, which could
easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, based on recent
relocations handled by the agency.
The bureaucratic mishap occurred as agency and county
representatives each made plans for the privately owned property,
but apparently kept the ideas to themselves for months.
Work began in April
The remodeling, which includes seismic strengthening and the
construction of two courtrooms, began last April and ran through the
end of the year.
Around August, the agency placed the property on a short list of
locations where parking garages could be built and began notifying
property owners. An agency official said both the county and the
building's owner, Barry Swenson Builders, were notified in August or
Then, in November, the council approved the agency's so-called
parking management plan, a recommendation to build five downtown
garages at an estimated cost of $145 million. The Notre Dame site
was among five sites in the plan, which was well-publicized at the
A court spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
It is not known whether the county, which is hurting for court
space, would have moved in had it understood that the property was
being considered for a garage.
The building is an extension of the larger family court, a
crowded venue a few blocks away at Park Avenue and Almaden
Agency representatives apparently made several trips to the site
before fully understanding that the county was moving into the
``They didn't realize what was going on with the courts and one
day I guess they were walking around the block and noticed a bunch
of work going on; they realized it wasn't just an empty building,''
said Aaron Barger, a project manager with Barry Swenson
The agency is now conducting an environmental review of the site
before deciding how to proceed, Maghamfar said.
A section of the property is historically important. In 1956, IBM
lab workers at that address developed the RAMAC 350, the world's
first disk drive.
So a portion of the building that commemorates the discovery may
have to remain, or perhaps just a plaque would be required,